Sunday, January 24, 2010

Baseball to Orlando? One Team Laughs Out Loud

It didn’t take long for the Milwaukee Brewers to rebuff a story by WFTV-TV in Orlando that the team could possibly relocate to Florida.

"The reporter or whoever else is putting that out there should do his homework," said Tyler Barnes, VP of Communications for the Brewers. "It's irresponsible. We just finished ninth in attendance, we have one of the best ballparks in baseball and an owner who is totally committed to the [Milwaukee] area.

"That report is beyond hilarious. I needed a good laugh today, and I got it."

The Friday night story was about the attempt of Armando Gutierrez, a candidate for Congress, to bring a Major League Baseball team to Orlando. Reporter Mark Boyle said in his report, “no one is saying right now exactly what MLB team would even consider the proposal.” But in his live tag, he said the Brewers could be one of the teams in the mix.

I’ve met and watched Mark and he's good, so I don’t think he just pulled the Brewers’ name out of thin air. But it is a bit sloppy to throw the speculation out there without citation (or thorough research). Not only are the Brewers doing well at the gate in Milwaukee, but their lease at the state-of-the-art Miller Park doesn't expire until Dec. 31, 2030.

Maybe the rumor came from an ill-educated Gutierrez, who obviously doesn't mind the publicity. The guy may mean well - with his grass-roots Facebook group - but he clearly doesn’t know how this game is played. He’d have an easier time getting an affordable meal at Disney than he would a full-time baseball team there.

MLB has federal anti-trust protection, which means it operates as a single business, not 30 different competitors. So even if a team wanted to move to Florida, they’d have to convince MLB that it was a good idea (Peter Gammons explains why it won’t happen here).

[My guess is that either Gutierrez or WFTV got their rumors mixed up. I’ve heard from inside baseball sources that the Brewers could relocate their spring training home from Arizona to Florida in a few years and that Orlando could be in the mix, along with Ft. Myers and a couple of other cities.]

There’s also the issue with proximity to the Rays and the hell they’d raise if another team moved into their television market...UNLESS, the team Orlando tried to lure WAS the Rays.

Could the Rays threaten to leave St. Petersburg for a new, privately-funded super-complex in Orlando? Sure. But I doubt it, as the only purpose it would serve would be to leverage St. Pete/Pinellas Co. into building them a new stadium.

The team would never really entertain the idea since all the problems they have in downtown St. Pete would be magnified in Orlando.

Don’t like Tampa traffic? Orlando’s is worse.

Don’t think enough fans live within 30 minutes of The Trop? Any Orlando location would be worse.

As long as the Rays are committed to The Trop, there’s no point to getting excited about MLB in the Orlando area. Unless you’re counting down the days for Braves’ pitchers and catchers to report.


  1. Very interesting. But there would be SO MANY reasons not to bring another team to Florida. As an outsider, it would appear as though the state can't even handle their two teams as it is. if you combined TB and the Marlins attendances, they'd still lose to the top four teams in the mlb! I understand how much fun speculation can be in reporting, but it's awful to undermine a successful franchise like Milwaukee who does so well in such a small market. My guess: this politician is just looking to please the constituents, good job exposing him for what he is.

  2. Do not be one bit surprised if the Rays do leave St. Petersburg for Orlando. Just sayin'.

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